Reflections from Synod 2017
I attended my first ever Synod in 2017. It had its theme “Telling our Story” and found for me it did exactly that. I came away encouraged and affirmed.
I was very excited by the spirit and a deep sense that we have a wonderful story in the gospel of Jesus. The poetry and preaching of Joel McKerrow lifted my spirit and affirmed to our powerful story. Mata Hiliau brought each of our days together in reflection with a warmth and in ways that confirmed acknowledged all that was good in the day. Hannah Boland had a message that touched us deeply as she shared her personal journey of faith through incredible hardships and disappointment with a remarkable hard hitting integrity. So my spirit was lifted.
Further I sensed that The Reverend Simon Hansford and The Reverend Jane Fry will create a leadership team that will tackle the reforms we need to make us nimble and responsive on the huge challenge we face to be that fellowship of reconciliation to which we are called.
John Williams is the Co-Chair of Canberra Regional Presbytery
David Russell and Daniel Mossfield have summarised Synod’s major decisions and outcomes below.
Admin, SSC and Roles:
- Rev. Simon Hansford was inducted as Moderator
- Rev. Jane Fry was elected and commissioned as General Secretary
- John Thornton was elected as Chair of Advisory Committee On Ministerial Placements
- The size of the Standing Committee was reduced to 20 or 21 members. Further work will be required to ensure Standing Committee membership reflects the Synod’s diversity (including Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, gender and rural/urban balance).
Pathways and Stepping Stones
- Pathways is a project of consulting with Presbyteries and Congregations to help set strategic priorities for the Synod and to develop local initiatives. Phases 1 and 2 (consultation and feedback) have already rolled out in pilot Presbyteries of Paramatta Nepean Presbytery and New England North West Presbytery with positive feedback. Phase 3 (actions) is still to be undertaken.
- Synod approved the rollout of Pathways to each Presbytery in Synod (with appropriate funding) by Synod April 2019. This to take account of already existing Presbytery strategies etc.
- Stepping Stones about reorganising the structure and institution (budget etc) to be able to respond to findings of Pathways.
- The next generations ministry of Synod (children, youth and young adults) is being rebranded as ‘Pulse’ (ucapulse.org.au), because with ‘no pulse, there is no sign of life’
- Sufficient funding was allocated for the next five years to create a team to resource this ministry across the Synod
- The leadership of this project have expressed that they need to think creatively about how this doesn’t become Sydney-centric, but also supports rural and regional areas.
- The Synod refreshed its commitment to find new ways to support ministry in the rural and remote regions of New South Wales through strong endorsement of the “Saltbush” program lead by Mark Faulkner which seeks to foster, resource and link together our various ministries to folk in small regional and remote congregations.
Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress
- In principle support was granted for UAICC to gain certain powers of a Presbytery, including the placement of ministers, candidates in college, and establishing new congregations. Details will be worked out by Synod Standing Committee.
- Walking on Wiradjuri country – opportunity for people to learn about indigenous culture in early 2019 by heading out West.
- This will encourage ministers to build a relationship with a rural congregation, and provide four weeks of ministry a year on an ongoing basis (with city congregations to support this time). This will not be supply ministry, but an ongoing relationship.
- Sydney Central Coast and Macquarie Darling presbyteries will participate in the trial.
- A new contribution to the Synod to be made by all parts of the church (congregations, schools, agencies etc). This will replace Living is Giving from 1 July 2018.
- Exact figures will be worked out in consultation with all parts of the church to ensure it is equitable.
- Assembly led a conversation with the Synod in small discernment groups around the Marriage Conversation that will happen at Assembly 2018: in particular, regarding what issues the Assembly needs to consider as it frames the conversation.
- People’s feedback included: a sense that Assembly needs to make a decision at its next meeting; that we hope we can hold together as a Church despite differences of opinion on this issue; that any decision will need to be well-communicated, and extra pastoral support provided, that is especially mindful of LGBTIQ and ethno-cultural communities.
- Canberra Regional Presbytery has set up a site and links to a whole range of resources and information from across the diversity of our faith and culture. We thank Mid North Coast Presbytery for the hard work they have done to make this available to us.